City Council President Nick J. Mosby announces suicide prevention workgroup, honors officers for water rescue that saved the life of child and mother
BALTIMORE, MD (January 15, 2021) — Baltimore City Council President Nick J. Mosby announced the creation of a suicide prevention legislative workgroup Friday to help ensure residents have access to mental health treatment, especially as the pandemic has increased suicides among African Americans in Maryland.
President Mosby also issued citations to officers who rescued from the freezing water on Dec. 13 a drowning child and her mother, who was experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
Under Mosby’s leadership, the legislative workgroup will recommend to the City Council meaningful policy solutions to make sure all residents have access to quality mental health treatment, including ongoing preventative care. They’ll work to identify gaps in services, increase community engagement for our most vulnerable and underserved communities and work toward destigmatizing mental health in our city.
The workgroup chairs are Councilmember Danielle McCray, chair of the Council’s Health, Environment and Technology Committee, and Dr. Cynthia Major Lewis, director of Johns Hopkins Adult Psychiatric Emergency Services. Other members include providers, advocates, faith leaders, survivors and public service leaders. The group will meet bi-monthly beginning Friday.
President Mosby said he sought immediate action after learning that the number of completed suicides among African Americans appears to have doubled during the pandemic.
“Too many in our city are suffering under the weight of depression, sadness, loneliness and grief brought to crisis levels by this roiling pandemic; the Council is taking immediate action to find them help, relief and opportunities to cope,” President Mosby said.
“While we work on improving access to mental health treatment and preventative care, help is available right now. Pick up your phone and call 410-433-5175 if you need someone to talk to. You can also call 211. Someone will be on the other end of the line who can help you work through this heaviness you’re feeling.”
The information was revealed last month in the study, “Racial Differences in Statewide Suicide Mortality Trends in Maryland During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.” The lead researcher was Dr. Paul Nestadt, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Joining Mosby at Friday’s news conference was Nestadt’s fellow researcher Michael Bray, a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
President Mosby also invited the public to join a Facebook Live event at 6 p.m. Jan. 21 on Facebook.com/BaltCouncil to discuss the mental health crisis and how to get help. The public can stay updated on the Facebook Live event and the progress of the Baltimore City Suicide Prevention Legislative Workgroup using #BmoreStayWell on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Dr. Lewis of Hopkins called the Council’s work to improve access to mental health treatment critical. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and recent rate increases have made it the second leading cause of death in young people.
“As a clinician, I see first-hand the impact of untreated mental illness and undertreated mental illness,” Dr. Lewis said. “As clinicians, we can treat and we can encourage. But we really need collaboration with legislators who can provide the necessary monies and resources that are truly needed to impact change.
“I look forward to being a part of the village that is actually taking action. I am not interested in only talking about the problem. For that reason, I am honored to work with this legislative workgroup to put our actions into words and improve these outcomes.”
President Mosby also commended the officers involved in the December water rescue that saved the lives of the 6-year-old girl and her 34-year-old mother. Baltimore Police Department Major Byron Conaway accepted the Council’s citations on behalf of Officers Joel Quillin, Tyler Naccari-Mueller and Jeffrey Hooper.
Councilmember Danielle McCray said the workgroup will raise awareness for suicide prevention and elevate efforts to save lives.
“Residents have been faced with heightened levels of depression, heightened levels of fear, heightened levels of anxiety, and within many of our communities, the rate of suicides has increased,” Councilmember McCray said. “There is stigma within our community around simply having a conversation about mental health. We have to do a better job collectively. Suicide is preventable. Let me say that again: Suicide is preventable.”
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Office of City Council President Nick J. Mosby